Posts Tagged risks of prescription drugs
A new study from the University of Colorado Denver reveals that teenagers and young adults are leading the way in painkiller abuse.
According to a news release, today’s adolescents are abusing prescription pain medications like Vicodin, Valium, and Oxycontin at a rate 40 percent higher than previous generations.
“Prescription drug use is the next big epidemic,” said Richard Miech, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of sociology at CU Denver. “Everyone in this field has recognized that there is a big increase in the abuse of nonmedical analgesics but our study shows that it is accelerating among today’s generation of adolescents.”
Miech and colleagues analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and found the prevalence of prescription pain medication abuse among the current generation of youth is “higher than any generation ever measured.” The finding applies among subgroups of men, women, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. In addition, the researchers said there are a number of factors that are driving this trend, one of them is the parents’ influence on their children.
“Youth who observe their parents taking analgesics as prescribed may come to the conclusion that any use of these drugs is OK and safe,” Miech said.
Miech added that people who abuse prescription pain relievers report that they obtained the medicines from family or friends.
The study, published on Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, further noted that nonmedical analgesic use accounted for an increase in emergency room visits of 129 percent between 2004 and 2009. Prescription drug abuse led to a threefold increase in unintentional overdose mortality from the 1990s to 2007.
“The increasing availability of analgesics in the general population is well documented, as the total number of hydrocodone and oxycodone products prescribed legally in the U.S. increased more than fourfold from about 40 million in 1991 to nearly 180 million in 2007,” the study said. “Higher prevalence of analgesics makes first-time NAU among contemporary youth easier than in the past because more homes have prescription analgesics in their medicine cabinets.”
During last week’s National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in Orlando, experts warned that kids today don’t have any idea that prescription drugs could be dangerous. Most kids say that millions like them are given painkillers after a visit to the dentist or for injuries, and adults at home take them too, which is why they must be safe.
Gil Kerlikowske who heads President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is alarmed about the whole situation. “Young people are just naive,” said the official.
At the summit, topics about addiction, overdoses, and strip mall pill mills were highlighted, and the fact that kids are not scared of prescribed medications made experts and participants worry about this generation of kids.
In last year’s report from the annual Monitoring the Future youth substance abuse survey, there were eight types of prescription drugs which made it to the top 22 substances teens get hooked on. Most of them are painkillers that can be easily accessed with the right prescriptions, either personal or from other members of the family.
According to teens, painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet give them the high, yet these substances remain undetected by their parents. Students Against Drunk Driving Orlando High chapter president Destiny Ramos described the experience of painkiller abuse. “It’s like getting drunk. It’s all for the high.”
In the latest National Institute of Health report, approximately 12% of all opioid prescriptions (estimated to be around 9.3 million) are done for patients between 10 to 29 years old.
These drugs are almost identical to heroin as far as chemical structure is concerned, and unfortunately, most kids who start experimenting with prescription drugs often become heroin addicts by the time they become young adults.
Drug Enforcement Administration deputy assistant administrator Joseph Rannazzisi said that if parents continue to disregard the problem, more and more children will suffer. “We’re going to lose a whole generation of kids to heroin.”